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VOLUME 117-----------MARCH 2012



March 10, 2012

Busy time for those of us who are interested in the topics most talked about in these newsletters!  February 18th found Ann and I at the annual Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation banquet at the Mirabeau Hotel in Spokane Valley.  I didn't hear a head count, but the place was full to overflowing.

On March 3rd we attended the annual Friends of NRA banquet at Red Lion Inn at the Park in downtown Spokane.  For this one I had purchased a package including a table for 8, so we were joined by Rick, Christi, Jennifer, Jennifer's friend Jordan, and Dick and Kathy Wood, friends from the Elks Lodge.  Again, this appeared to be a sold-out function.

We have attended both these banquets for more years than I can remember and have seen the level of enthusiasm and funds raised ebb and flow with the economic times.  Judging by the bidding in the live auctions at both the RMEF and NRA functions, local enthusiasts must believe the recession is over, in spite of the political wrangling that surrounds our economy and the way it works.

At the RMEF function, according to an informal tally that Ann kept, the live auction brought in over $30,000.  Money from numerous raffles and the silent auction added substantially to the total, but we didn't hear an official number.  The live auction at the NRA function brought in around $20,000 with raffles and silent auction adding to that total as well.

We have actually won two or three guns at these functions over the years, and bought some others at auction.  But, looking into my wallet at the end of the night always reminds me that I could have purchased a new gun at a retail store, stayed home, and been money ahead!  Of course we won't do that because both these organizations represent principles we believe in and we will continue to support them financially so long as we are able.

Speaking of winning guns, Rick can at least boast that one of his coworkers won a very lucrative raffle at the NRA function.  150 tickets were sold for this raffle at $100 a pop.  Prizes included a gun safe and, I believe, seven different firearms.  I looked at the table of firearms when I bought my ticket, and remember seeing an AR15 variant, a shotgun, other rifles, and a couple of handguns.  In all, the stated value of the package was around $7,000!  Congratulations Dan!

On Friday March 16th, Rick and I will travel to Yakima, Washington for In-service Training for certified hunter education instructors.  The Washington Hunter Education program falls under the direction of the Enforcement Division of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.  Due primarily to funding issues, no statewide meeting of instructors has occurred since 2008.  Regional, one day affairs have been held instead in the interim.

Since the last statewide IST, a number of things have occurred within WDFW and the Hunter Education Division.  We moved into the electronic world, with elimination of handwritten forms and reports.  All enrollment and reporting functions now must be done electronically.  As one might imagine, this change created some heartburn among instructors lacking the computer skills to move comfortably into this arena.

The longtime statewide coordinator of the H. E. program retired.  We are now under the supervision of coordinator number two since the retirement, both coming from the law enforcement ranks.  Depending upon one's perspective, the 'law enforcement ranks' aspect of the situation may or may not have significance.

A complete re-write and update of the Department's Hunter Education Policies was ordered.  Volunteers were sought from each of the six WDFW regions to participate in this project.  This group became know as the 'Instructor Advisory Committee.'  (IAC)  After several meetings of this group and another series of regional IST sessions to advise instructors "what was going on," we now have a 'DRAFT' policy manual posted on the Instructor's page of the WDFW website.

To say that some of the items in the draft policies are a bit controversial, may be putting it mildly!   Instructors are advised that written comments and suggestions will be accepted until April 30th.  Should be a very interesting two and a half days in Yakima!  I'll report further next month.

This is shaping up to be a very busy spring and summer.  In addition to our four scheduled Hunter Education classes, we will be celebrating my Mother-in-law's 100th birthday!  Ann's mother, Vivian, lives in Lamoni, Iowa, just across the state line from Eagleville, Missouri where we graduated from High School.  This will entail a trip back home in April to meet sister Sue and husband Clifford, from Tucson.  The girls will put together a reception in the community room at the apartment complex that Vivian calls home.

With the 100th birthday plans percolating, another opportunity to travel has reared its head.  A few weeks ago Jennifer, who ran in our state cross country meet last fall, received a letter inviting her to run in two 5k races to be held on the Gold Coast of Australia in late June and early July.

Jennifer and her parents are signed up and making preparations for the trip.  Theirs will be an all inclusive tour with other U. S. athletes and their families, and will originate in Los Angeles.  Sydney and Brisbane are the major cities on the itinerary, with the two races being held some 85 kilometers south of Brisbane.  One of the races has historically attracted 4,000 runners!

Not wanting to be left out, Ann and I are working with a local travel agent to arrange a trip that will include attending Jennifer's races, and then seeing and experiencing a few days of Australia's many attractions.  Stay tuned on this one, it promises to be fun!

While I'm talking about Jennifer I want to report on a major hairstyle change.  Long, straight hair has seemed to be the style for Jennifer and her high school friends for the past several years.  I think this is part of the fashion rule for teenagers that says "We want to be different, and look exactly the same."

At any rate, Jennifer decided she was tired of caring for the long hair and shortly before the NRA banquet, she had an appointment for a haircut.  I think we all expected to see something shoulder-length or a bit shorter after her appointment.  Well, here's the results!

New Look!  The ponytail on the shelf in front went to 'Locks of Love'

Just as we were feeling confident that we would have a relatively snow free winter, February came along!  We were again reminded that the privilege of living in the woods a few hundred feet higher than the Spokane metro area has its price.  The biggest storm brought 3 to 6 inches of snow to the valley, with well over a foot in our neck of the woods.  Even with equipment like the 5 foot wide snowblower on the tractor, it was a struggle getting the extremely heavy, wet stuff off our driveways.

The good news is, we had our first 60 plus temperature yesterday.  The warm wind helped get rid of a lot of the dirty, ugly snow piles, but we do have more to go.  The valley is pretty much snow free after yesterday, and we hope to follow soon.

The target stand southwest of the house, is now mostly visible, so some shooting will be on the menu as soon the the snow is gone and we warm up a bit.

This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from a quote from Frederic Bastiat, French Economist (1801-1850)

"Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else."

Well, It's time to shut down here, So . . . .

'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!!!

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